Friday Reading S10E09

It’s back. My weekly newsletter of … interesting things I found to read on the web about journalism, media, politics and all the other weird cult-thinks and nonsense I am into. Subscribe to it here.

I often mention the grief and abuse that I get sent on social media and through email about the work that I do, but I wanted today to add something else to that. Since I started doing the London leg of the Guardian’s US politics live blog I have also received so many lovely, warm, light-hearted, appreciative emails from readers, like no other thing I’ve ever worked on. It’s been really heart-warming.

“The secretary of state for culture is trying to ignite a fake ‘culture war’ in the arts, museums and heritage sector. Dowden trained his sights on the Museum of the Home, a non-departmental public body, in Hackney, London. The museum had recently changed its name from that of the slave trader Robert Geffrye, and a public consultation was considering community demands for a 1912 reproduction of a statue of Geffrye to be relocated from above the entrance. ‘As the prime minister has stated, we cannot pretend to have a different history,’ Dowden warned in a leaked letter to trustees.”

“The UK government is trying to draw museums into a fake culture war” – Dan Hicks

Paul Clarke made me laugh here with this line up in the opening pars: “I do know that lawyers are never, ever going to be rewarded for underestimating a risk”.

He’s a photographer and this is an interesting look at what happens when something goes viral in a way that wasn’t intended – in this case the fateful photoshoot of a model dressed as a ballerina who later became Fatima, the ballerina who the government wanted to retrain as *checks notes* ‘cyber’.

Amazing first person piece by journalist Georgia Coan about living with OCD that opens “I’m insecure about my hands”.

“Nowadays, it seems that the Black people being favoured as ‘community spokespeople’ by the mainstream media are the ones who are keen to downplay anti-Blackness, and minimise or deny the existence of racism altogether. Hardcore right-wing organisations such as Toby Young’s Free Speech Union and Turning Point UK have dedicated themselves to fighting “wokeness” by recruiting these people, just to place them front and centre and deflect accusations of racism. “Some of our best friends are Black.” Blah, blah, blah. The age of these people is also interesting to me. They all seem to be fairly young and lack life experience. There’s no appreciation for the sacrifices made by their elders that enable them to live life as freely as they do. They don’t seem to understand what life was like when Teddy Boys roamed the streets looking for Black people to violently attack. They have no grasp of how frustrating it was before legislation forced a tiny crack in a few doors open, to allow a few Black people to gain management positions.”

“Black right-wing ‘spokespeople’ do not speak for me” – Ava Vidal, gal-dem

The Guardian have informed us this week that unless you are required to be in the office for specific roles, they anticipate we will all be working remotely until at least the end of January. I feel strangely mixed about it. I’ve got a perfectly good office set-up at home, and I’m mostly covering events 3,000 miles away so it hardly matters if I’m in Walthamstow or Kings Cross. And even if they re-opened the office, there’s no way I’d want to go back to commuting five days a week. And yet it feels quite a heavy and monotonous burden looking that far ahead and seeing no change.

A fab new thing from the ever-excellent VOLE.WTF stable of Matt Round.

“We trained a neural network on street art to create GANksy, a twisted visual genius for unsettled times. You can buy the full-size signed art to print/resell/whatever, starts at £1 but rises by a quid each time one‘s bought…”

The murky depths of this…

“At the heart of the problem are programs or apps that can rapidly calculate near-perfect moves in any situation. To counter these engines, players in more and more top matches must agree to be recorded by multiple cameras, be available on Zoom or WhatsApp at any time, and grant remote access to their computers. They may not be allowed to leave their screens, even for toilet breaks. In some cases they must have a “proctor” or invigilator search their room and then sit with them throughout a match. It has also suggested eye-tracking programs may be a way to raise a red flag if a player appears to be looking away with suspicious frequency.”

Chess’s cheating crisis: ‘paranoia has become the culture’ – Archie Bland

“An actor writing their own character sounds like a recipe for an insane ego trip” writes James Cooray Smith as he has a look at *checks notes* famously ego-free William Shatner writing Star Trek books and comics about *checks notes* famously ego-free James T Kirk. Along the way I was reminded that Walter Koenig wrote a script for Star Trek: The Animated Series. What a time to be alive the 1970s was.

“Star Trek: When actors write” – James Cooray Smith

If they introduce Premier League B-teams into the lower leagues I will simply just not renew my season ticket. I will never pay to watch my club’s first XI be forced to play somebody else’s reserves in a training exercise masquerading as a league fixture. I will just never do it.

Emma Garland for Vice on how she literally wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for live music.

“My dad’s band played at my mam’s 21st birthday party, which is something they discovered several years later when they actually met. At some point, their paths crossed; two music lovers thrown together by the heaving local gig circuit of the South Wales Valleys in the 1980s. Nights out at Llanharan Rugby Club and The Navel in Tonypandy; group coaches to London to see bands at The Marquee; dinner in someone’s front room – socialising involved music, always, not just for my parents but for anyone with a passing interest in rock music.”

It’s a lovely tribute to growing up in a family obsessed with music and gigs.

Talking of which I AM ABSOLUTELY CURSED about going to see OMD. I’d manage to get a very limited ticket to go and see their socially distanced gig at the O2 next weekend. It’s just been cancelled, for very understandable reasons – Andy got Covid and travelling from Tier 3 Merseyside to Tier 2 London is currently a no-no. This is now the fifth consecutive OMD gig in the space of twelve months that I have had tickets for that has either then been cancelled, or I have been suddenly unable to attend because reasons.

Frustrated but heartfelt plea from Marc Almond on the current plight of musicians.

As you may have noticed, since lockdown relaxed I have been doing a series of online shows with various London based Musicians I have the pleasure of working with. Most of these shows have been free with a choice of donating to pay musicians, studio and costs. So many of you around the world have been generous and supportive and participated in these unique events for our time. The past two Marc Life shows have been ticketed shows. This is because the shows involved a lot of work and many people taking part, many who currently have no or not much work. Costs have been high. I hoped the shows would have done better and, once again, many of you put your hand in your pocket to buy a ticket. Sadly, viewing figures were far less than the previous live shows for maybe a number of reasons. It’s a shame as the Bolan show in particular involved a lot of work. I hoped it would do better but it ended up covering nowhere near the costs. The same with the first Marc Life featuring an exclusive Soft Cell performance. Sadly, I now have to abandon this format all together as in this time it’s hard for me to make such losses.

He goes on to say that he is very privileged, but a lot of people in the industry are now really suffering financially.

Incidentally, Gary Numan has also abandoned his plans for series of paid for online acoustic videos because they were getting pirated.

Phil BC asks “Why do the Tories Hate the Arts?”

This is a lovely review of a lovely song by a lovely person I know. Honestly, my heart just crashes to the ground as it slides into the chorus. As they say, “it also conveys the strength of somewhat obsessional thoughts and the slowly dissipating energy of becoming stranger when once you were intimate”.

Popoptica review: Charley Stone – Does She Mention Me?

There’s some free electronica happening tonight* online: Plugged IN is on from 7pm and features Ned Rush, Halina Rice, Perplex On, Azzura and Arconic. The event page is here.

[*assuming you opened this email very very promptly, and why wouldn’t you?]

Can I also point you in the direction of VEMOM #8 on Twitch? It is on Thursday 22 October 2020 at 8pm, and will feature a plethora of live sets and videos from electronic artists. There will be 10 minutes of my spooky tunes from m-orchestra wedged in there somewhere. Subscribe to

I can’t recommend the new Catherine Anne Davies and Bernard Butler record enough.